Six Tuscan Poets, by Giorgio Vasari, 1544.

Six Tuscan Poets, by Giorgio Vasari, 1544. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota.

Communication

Volume V, Number 2 | spring 2012

Preamble

Word Order

By Lewis H. Lapham

The Internet is blessed with undoubtedly miraculous applications, but language is not yet one of them. Technology cannot displace the primacy of words.

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Word for Word

By Ben Zimmer

Peter Mark Roget’s Thesaurus was the creation of an obsessive list-maker that became a tool and a temptation for generations of writers.

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Miscellany

Before the entire palette of modern mathematical notation existed, Johannes Kepler relied on musical notation to describe the planets’ rotation around the sun in his Harmonies of the World, published in 1619. The plus and minus signs were introduced in print in 1489 by Johann Widman, and the equal sign in 1557 by Robert Recorde, but the multiplication sign (×) was not introduced until 1631, by William Oughtred; modern exponential notation in 1637, by René Descartes; and the obelus (÷) to indicate division in 1659, by Johann Rahn.

History does not merely touch on language, but takes place in it.

- Theodor Adorno, c. 1946

Lapham’sDaily

LQ Podcast

#07 Kory Stamper

Lewis Lapham talks with Kory Stamper, lexicographer at Merriam-Webster and the author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.     More